Conceptual art at the campus gallery


“Did You Know Women Have Nipples? A Public Censure” by student Anna Rose

Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Yashowanto Ghosh

This year’s New Forms Class Exhibit, featuring work by 11 artists, opened at the Aquinas College Art & Music Center Gallery on Wednesday, Nov. 20, and will remain up until Friday, Dec. 6.

The show has become an annual event, with striking, new conceptual pieces every year, and this year is no exception.  Each of the artists in the show has just one piece, which suggests they spent the whole semester on the exhibit. The pieces are each rooted in different concepts, which vary from personal ones to social, political, or universal ones.  And the media vary without bound, which suggests the media were chosen, and the pieces were put together, specifically for the concept at its root.

The results make for a show where anything is possible. There is wild variation both from year to year and among each year’s pieces—but the quality of the work is always high.  When going to this show’s opening any given year, you never know what you are walking into, but you always know it will engage your mind.

The centerpiece of this year’s show, the one in the photograph above, is by senior Anna Rose, and addresses laws that ban women from going topless while men are allowed to do the same, and are even glamorized when they do it.  The four cardboard cutouts, whose raison d’être in their familiar original versions was to display their naked upper bodies, have their nipples censored, which is just what would have happened to them had they been not male, but female figures. The cutouts are arranged around printed statements of the relevant state laws from six states, Michigan included. 

The other pieces in the show, which are all powerful, include an arrangement of found glass objects, light, and a bright orange colour addressing the problem of control—both of one’s own person and of other people—by Janna Pant; several thought-provoking videos, such as one called “The Handwritten Self,” by Bailey Trout, that is made of images of writing on the palm of a hand; a piece about the state of the education system called “Mr. Fund” by Jamey Limbers; a two-part piece of paper engineering by Ashley Postema, with one part that recreates a children’s pop-up book called “Enchantment,” and another part, called “The Boy Hero,” that points at the roots of the unequal treatment of boys and girls even in that enchanted childhood.

The show closes Friday—go catch it while you still can, because it will be a treat for your mind.

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